Mon, Jul 12, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Premier, speaker to meet on session

MAKING PLANS Having different reasons for wanting to hold an extra legislative session might not stop the pan-greens and pan-blues from agreeing to a sitting

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun is scheduled to meet Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) this morning to solicit support for calling an extraordinary legislative session to review bills and budget appropriations deemed urgent by the Cabinet.

Topping the Cabinet's list are a NT$17.2 billion (US$511 million) budget request for disaster relief stemming from Tropical Storm Mindulle; a special budget for the five-year, NT$500 billion 10 New Major Construction Projects; and a special bill and budget for a NT$610.8 billion arms procurement from the US.

According to Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), disaster relief stemming Tropical Storm Mindulle is estimated to cost about NT$26.4 billion. The Cabinet has about NT$9.6 billion at its disposal, leaving it NT$16.8 billion short.

Damage caused by Mindulle, which killed 25 and injured 16, is estimated to be NT$12.2 billion. Wang has suggested that relief work be included in the 10 New Major Construction Projects.

The legislature passed a bill authorizing the 10 New Major Construction Projects on the last day of the legislative session that ended on June 11. The bill allows the Cabinet to circumvent the nation's public debt ceiling and to make a special budget of up to NT$500 billion for the projects over the next five years.

The Cabinet is prevented, however, from earmarking spending for the 10 projects that is in excess of 50 percent of the annual budget of other major public construction programs being carried out in the same year.

Seeking to amend that article of the statute, the Cabinet is scheduled to approve draft amendments to the special law during Wednesday's weekly Cabinet meeting and later to send the amendments to the extraordinary legislative session for further review.

While Wang has hinted that the NT$610.8 billion special budget for arms purchases would likely be cut by at least NT$100 billion, the pan-blue legislative caucuses have threatened to cut at least NT$200 billion if the eight submarines included in the package are not assembled locally.

Under the Cabinet's plan, China Shipbuilding, a state-run company, will send technicians overseas to observe construction of the first two submarines and learn about the design, production and logistics techniques involved in building the vessels.

The Cabinet hopes the company would then be able to build one-third of the hardware for the third and fourth subs.

For the fifth and sixth subs, the Cabinet hopes the company can build two-thirds of the hardware and then build all of the remaining two.

After meeting with Yu, Wang is slated to conduct a coordination conference between the ruling and the opposition parties at around noon to discuss the best time for the extraordinary session.

The opposition parties have suggested that the session be held over three days starting July 16 to deal with bills such as the structure of the ad hoc investigation committee into the election-eve assassination attempt; the ad hoc investigation committee into the use of the national security mechanism after the shooting; and constitutional amendments.

The DPP caucus, however, prefers to see the session held either between July 19 and 23 or from Aug. 3 to 13 to review 15 pieces of legislation, in particular the budget for the 10 projects.

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